Obama and Romney offer competing documentaries on YouTube


Freed from the time constraints of TV commercials, President Obama and Mitt Romney are producing compelling campaign videos with a YouTube audience in mind. 

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are going head-to-head in the race for the White House and on YouTube. Now both candidates are using the same weapon: short documentaries telling the story of the other’s failures.

On Monday, Obama launched a pair of YouTube videos about how Romney’s Bain Capital shut down a Kansas City steel mill and then allegedly ripped the employees’ health benefits. Both videos feature interviews with former employees and plenty of B-roll of empty lots and shuttered steel mills. By Tuesday night, the short version, titled “Steel,” had gained more than 250,000 views, while the six-minute version had gained more than 174,000 views.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Romney camp launched a similar video focusing on “A Few of the 23 Million” people who have found themselves unemployed under Obama’s administration. Like Obama’s videos, the story takes place in the heartland, this time Iowa. As of Tuesday night it has been viewed just over 27,000 times.

As always, both videos became a hotbed of discussion about who was to blame for the job loses and who could fix it.

“Wow, i knew Bain did bad things to companies but actually seeing the people who worked there talk about it is a wakeup call. Just, wow,” YouTuber Harbinger4111 wrote on Obama’s video.

But not all of the comments on the Obama video were positive, surprising considering that it appears the Obama camp has been editing comments. (While the Obama videos had many more views, they only had about 100 comments. The Romney video, by contrast, had about 500 comments).

“As others have said, the company could not have been taken over unless it was in turmoil,” user Drgearbrain wrote. “Do you actually think that Bain would take a great company just humming along fantastically and liquidate it? You really think Bain would take over a productive company and screw everyone, just out of spite? That’s not how intelligent people operate. Get emotional all you want, but in all likelihood Bain took a trash bin company and managed to make the most of it

Both videos were extremely well produced and show the advantage YouTube can give a campaign. Unlike television, where an ad may only last 30 seconds, online you can create a storyline and narrative. It’s something both campaigns are taking advantage of and something we’ll surely see more of in the future.  

Photo via Mitt Romney/Facebook

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Staying positive pays off for President Obama on YouTube
President Obama's new campaign video, "Go," has already received more than 133,000 views—nearly double that of  Mitt Romney's recent attack ad. 
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